Salem the Goddess

The Tribal Uniform is designed so your look will coordinate with any ITS, SGI, and ATS® dancer anywhere in the world. To ensure you understand the costuming aesthetics, please review the look of the American Tribal Style® Uniform. You can buy pieces from reputable ATS® costuming sources but many dancers and students make their own costumes, which ensures the best fit for the individual dancer.

This list contains my thoughts about costuming for ITS, SGI, and ATS® belly dance, and the pieces are listed in order of what I think is most important to least important for acquiring costume pieces. Other instructors and troupe directors will have different preferences and ideas for ITS, SGI, and ATS® belly dance costuming. My goal with the Costume Guide is to provide a reference point of information for the military affiliated dancer so that a person can transition easily into the new duty station and new class/troupe with a cohesive look as well as the synchronized vocabulary.

Required Class Supplies

We use zils in
SGI Tribal BellyDance. If you are attending my ITS Belly Dance class please acquire a set of zils by the third week of class.

  • Saroyan Zils are the best choice and have a range of prices and styles.
  • The Turquoise International Oriental Size A 2 1/16” zils are an excellent student set at a very reasonable price.

Supplementary Class Supplies

These items are not absolutely necessary unless you plan on performing in student performances and demonstrations. Please review the
Shopping link and Sewing and Crafting link for a list of online vendors. Please feel free to ask me about a piece before purchasing it. I want you to wear the style that suits your personality and blends with ITS Belly Dance.

25-Yard Skirt
  • We wear skirts ranging in circumference of 10, 15, and 25 yards. Cupcake/Fluffy, Dip-dye, Jaipur, Caravan, Spinning Skirt, and Padma/Aishwarya are all styles that are appropriate for my class.
  • When selecting a skirt please make sure the pattern and color is consistent on the inside of the skirt as well as the outside. Pattern and color consistency inside and out is an important component of skirt tucking.
  • Cotton is the best choice of material for this style of dance, refrain from choosing chiffon and satin material.
  • Choose colors and styles that work for you but please note that some instructors may request you wear a solid color (usually black or white) 25-yard skirt as a base color skirt, which is something to consider if you plan to continue your ITS Belly Dance education in a new location.

Open Back/Tie Back Choli
  • The Choli comes in a variety of materials, sleeve lengths, colors, and cuts. Choose a Choli that works for you.
  • Cotton, lace, velvet, and Jersey knit are common fabrics.
  • Cap-sleeve, 3/4 length sleeve, sleeveless, and full-length sleeve are the various sleeve styles.
  • V-neck is most common but Sweetheart neckline is also fine.
  • Black is found most frequently, but choose any color that works for you.
  • Sometimes in performance setting, we will wear a Choli without a Coin Bra, so consider choosing a Choil that offers the most support or can be worn without showing undergarments.

Coin Bra
  • Worn over the Open Back Choli, a Coin Bra can made by hand or purchased online.
  • The base of the bra is black. Other styles of bellydance use different colors but we use black bra base for SGI.
  • Kuchi, Pakistani, and Shisha are good decorative pieces.
  • Decorations, trim, fringe, beads, coins, shells, etc are open to interpretation, but limit the use of sequins.
  • The bra can tie in the back like a bikini top or be a halter style, choose what is comfortable for you to wear.
  • Whether purchased or hand-made, please make sure no bra hardware is showing (hooks, rings, adjusters etc.).

  • Sometimes called harem pants or genie pants.
  • Breathable fabrics such as cotton are a good choice for new students but you can choose Pantaloons in a variety of fabrics and colors that work for you.
  • Do not choose chiffon or any other opaque material.
  • Make sure the pants are sewn up the sides, no side-slits for this style.

Hip Adornment
  • Fringe and Tassel scarves in a triangle shape are a good choice.
  • Antique coins, Kuchi, Banjara, and beaded gul belts are a nice addition over a triangle scarf.
  • Avoid jingle scarves made with chiffon or velvet.

  • We cover our costumes before and after a performance. Our costumes are visible only during our performance time.
  • Veils, dupattas, and sarongs are good versatile choices that can be worn in a variety of ways.
  • Long kaftans, modern hanfus, and floor length cloaks are nice alternatives. Make sure you can slip in and out of these easily without getting your costume and hair caught.
  • No pullovers or any other style that will interfere with hair and make up.

  • For performances we wear lots of decorations including forehead adornment!
  • The bigger the better! Consider owning several styles for different types of performance environments including outdoor, large theater, and small stage.
  • Check out the list of Etsy sellers in the Shopping guide to find a bindi that works for you.
  • Do not use eyelash glue on vinyl backed bindis, use spirit gum.

Dance Shoes
  • Occasionally, we will perform in environments where shoes are necessary.
  • Choose a dance shoe that is both versatile and comfortable.
  • Check out the Shopping guide to find style that works for you.

Body Stocking and Covers
  • Some people are not yet comfortable showing a bare midriff so they choose to wear a mid-section cover.
  • Body Stockings and Covers can be made or purchased.
  • A black fitted spaghetti strap tank top tucked into the skirt with hidden straps is one option.
  • Nylons or fish net tights pulled up under the bust and secured under the choli is another option.

  • Like the bindi, the bigger the better!
  • You might already own jewelry that doubles for costuming!
  • Similar to the Coin Bra and Hip Adornment, decoration Kuchi, Pakistan, and India are items to acquire.